UH Community Garden an 'Oasis'

The University of Houston sits right in the middle of a food desert.

“A lot of people in the community don’t have access to fresh, healthy produce,” said sustainability program manager Sarah Kelly.

“I don’t know of many grocery stores in this area,” added community garden assistant Angelika Fuller.

The UH Office of Sustainability is doing its part to help, planting a community garden with over 600 square feet of University land dedicated to growing organic produce.

“We are trying to engage the students, faculty and staff as well in sustainable agriculture,” Kelly said.

But the garden is used for more than just education. Everything harvested is donated to area organizations that don’t have access to fresh produce.

“I can tell you from hands-on experience they love seeing fresh vegetables,” said Kervis Thornton of Manna House. “That is not always on our shelves, as you can see. We have a lot of things in the can, and a lot of our families like seeing the fresh produce. The 'organic' food as they call it.”

According to Manna House vice president Leroy Thornton, the fresh vegetables do not last long.

“We are open two days a week. It is gone within those two days,” Thornton said.

The community garden has become an oasis for the surrounding community.

“They get really excited to see all the different kinds,” Fuller said.  “A lot of the stuff they don’t even know what it is. I explain to them what it is, and maybe how they can cook it, and they get really excited about seeing something fresh because it is just picked.”